Individuals become 'children of the light' by following the promptings of the Spirit, becoming instruments to bring about much righteousness, Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy said during a campus devotional at Brigham Young University-Idaho on March 19.
"My message today focuses on the spiritual significance of embracing the light — of living our lives in such a way that we are filled with light, even as the world seems to be drifting more and more into darkness and despair," he said.
Drawing from the writings of Paul in the New Testament, Elder Christensen spoke of the "children of light" (1 Thessalonians 5:5-8). Using an example from his own family, Elder Christensen shared a story of when he and his wife came home to his children watching a movie that they did not find uplifting.
"It wasn't necessarily the content; it was the feeling [my wife] had while watching the video," he said. "After a few minutes, she asked our children if they saw any 'light' in this particular movie. She was not referring to the cinematography, or even the elements of the plot, but to the feelings she was experiencing when exposed to something rather dark and eerie."
After that experience, over the years his family adopted as part of their family dialog, the simple question, "Do you see any light in that?"
"We ask this question frequently as we seek after things that are virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy; or as we are bombarded with worldly influences, or darkness, that seem to be constantly looming," he said. "Simply by being on guard and by using this somewhat obvious filter, we have learned that it is quite easy to differentiate between what is light and what is dark — between things that inspire us and bring us closer to the Spirit and things that do not."
The doctrine of light is the essence of the gospel, which is centered in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, he said. To understand light means to understand the nature and divine character of the Savior Himself.
"To be 'children of light,' as Paul taught, means to believe and have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and follow His righteous example," he said.
The light of Christ is in everyone, and it helps discern between good and evil, he said. Using the example of the Prophet Joseph Smith in the sacred grove, Elder Christensen explained that the concept of light is much broader and much deeper than a simple description of luminosity or radiance — darkness is more than the mere absence of light.
"As you and I follow the Savior and embrace the light, we become His children, His sons and His daughters," he said. "As we continue on this path, we learn and grow, and gain even more light. ... We have been given the light of the gospel through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. You and I know what God expects from us, His beloved children. We have His Spirit to guide and direct us. To become 'children of the light' means to reject the power of the adversary and choose daily to follow in His light."
The phrase 'children of the light' describes a people in whom the light of the gospel shines brightly, who seek the light and are drawn to that which is virtuous, clean and pure. There is an expectation that the children of the light are alert and watchful, not "sleeping," in a spiritual sense, when they should be "awake," he said.
"Children of the light do not sit passively in darkness; they have the courage to stand up and stand out," he said. "When the adversary comes looming, children of the light know when to fight back, when to say no and when to simply walk away."
It is through letting one's light shine one becomes a standard to the nations of things that are of God.
"As you let your light shine, others who are sensitive to the light will be inspired by you to seek greater light," he said. "They will want to have more of what they see in you."
To be filled with light means more than simply obeying the commandments, Elder Christensen taught. Children of the light exercise great faith as they listen to and follow the words of the prophets.
"Now, there may be times when we consider all that is expected of children of the light, and believe it to be beyond our reach and abilities," he said. "Painfully aware of our own shortcomings, we may wonder why anyone would look to us for light and inspiration — particularly when we are in need of such help ourselves. If you ever feel this way, remember that your Heavenly Father knows all about you — your strengths and your weaknesses. He knows perfectly who you are, but He also knows who you can become. And with all of that knowledge, He has placed you here, right now — at the exact time and place where you can do the most good with the talents and gifts He has blessed you with."
Individuals don't have to wait until they are perfect before they are lights to the world, he said. Becoming children of the light is a process, much like the process of conversion. It is the gospel that helps individuals become what children of God are supposed to become.
"To become 'children of the light' we must be born of God, constantly repent and continually deepen our conversion by daily applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives," he said. "God has placed you on earth at a very important time in the history of mankind. He knows your talents and your spiritual gifts He has given you. He knows how you will contribute to bringing about much righteousness. ...
"As children of the light, we have the obligation of making this world a holier and happier place for our having lived in it. Heavenly Father relies on our influence to help bring all of His children home to Him. We should become an influence for good wherever we go."